Category Archives: Wine

McLaren Vale Wine – 2010 Inkwell Shiraz

For those of you that have been following both the Lonely Grape blog and now the Taste McLaren Vale blog will probably know the name Inkwell.  I have been following Inkwell and more importantly the owner – Dudley Brown, for as long as I have been back in the Vale.  I have always thought it was “interesting” that an American from California has a vineyard in McLaren Vale!  The other thing that draws me in is Dudley’s passion towards the wine industry in general and McLaren Vale in particular.

The other item I enjoy with Dudley is the Inkell wines.  I have enjoyed his Shiraz since my exposure to the 2008 Shiraz.  I also like the journey regarding the Zinfandel from his vineyard.  Each vintage that produced a wine so different from the previous.  To me showing not only the normal vintage variation but also the understanding of the vineyard.

Anyway I should discuss the wine in question.  The bottle I had was a Cleanskin so I do not have a bottle shot, however I have shown the inspiration for the label – the inkwell ink dot!

Inkwell Label

2010 Inkwell Shiraz ($30)

The first thing one notices is the colour or more correct the colour density.  This wine is almost inky in concentration.  So dense in fact that the wine needed more than 2 hours to show it’s best?  Also showing me this wine will have a long life, but I am not sure there will be much of it left in 7 years time.

The aromas continued with the dark theme with dark fruit compote with an emphasis on cherries.  I know there was oak maturation in making this wine but none of that could be really seen on the nose.  Maybe the wine was so dense that it was not ready to give up the oak aromas.   The flavors were – yes you guessed it, dark.  There was fresh blackberry mixed with a bit of satsuma plums.  This time one does get some oak structure – mainly French oak character.  The wine finishes with drying tannins mixed with a hint of violets.  The wine is not shy in the alcohol stakes but one does not notice because of all the complexity and the bigness of the fruit just pulls it all off.  In this case the individual components are no way even close to the effect of the whole.  This wine has just so much going on.  If I was so encore this wine it would be very high  This wine needs food with flavor – lots and last of flavor.  I enjoyed this wine with a big, big steak and it was just so good.

My understanding there is not much of this wine so if you like big bold Shiraz than this is a wine you should find and put down for at least a couple of years.

McLaren Vale Wine – Bellevue Estate

In some ways Corey Vandeleur was destined to make wine.  His parents owned the McLaren Vale local pub until he was a teenager.  He worked at Magleri’s, Hardys Tintara winery and had a stint overseas in California.  His dream started with using some cuttings from Maglieri’s vineyards to plant a 10 acre vineyard just off the Main Road across from the McLaren Vale Visitors Centre.

Only fruit from his vineyard goes into Bellevue Estate wines.  The winery is in front of the vineyard and Corey seems to approach his wines in a minimal handling way.  Each time the wine is handled (eg pumped) some flavor can be striped from the wine – thus not not making the best wine he can.

There is no cellar door at the winery, however one can try the wine at The Bahn (a restaurant also on McLaren Vale’s main street and owned by Cory’s brother, Ben).  I have now tried the last 3 vintages of the resultant wine and I can attend that each vintage has been an improvement  from the previous one.  This wine was awarded 5 stars at a Winestate Magazine new release tasting.

2010 Bellevue Estate Shiraz ($20)

Straight away the aromas showed a depth one does not normally find on a $20 wine.  As you expect there is plum fruit but the aromas of white pepper, mixed spice and a little vanilla (from the proportion of American oak).  The bottle I was tasting from had been open about 2 hours and a slight hint of musk was showing – I suggest that with increased breathing this musk could become more prevalent.

As with the aromas, the flavors shown depth – in this case some of the black fruits such as black cherry and blackberry with just a hint of blue fruit thrown in.  lots and lots of mocha chocolate dominates the mid and back palate.   The American and French oak influences are obvious and the tannins are drying, neither are over powering but it makes me think this wine will will be at it’s best in around 3 to 5 years.

The wine begs for food – big flavor food such as a beef rago and with a little patience one will have an absolutely enjoyable experience drinking a bottle or two.  At this price and quality the wine is absolutely a “should buy” from one of McLaren Vale’s smallest wineries.

McLaren Vale Wine – Graham Stevens Wines

Graham Stevens Wines Cellar Door

Happy 3rd birthday to Graham Stevens Wines.  I have been a big fan of the relatively new venture for Graham and Caroline.  They both work very hard to make their winery successful and I wish them all the success I can.  Three key criteria make their cellar door a must for McLaren Vale wine visitors.  Firstly, you always get a smile and Graham will come over and shake your hand.  This approach makes you feel welcome.  Secondly, they control all aspects of the process.  They even do their own bottling.  Thirdly, Graham understands what the consumer is looking for and the wines are consistently good or better.  Do yourself a favour and check them out.

The man himself - Graham Stevens

2011 Clare Valley Riesling ($14)

A well priced white wine – surprisingly a Riesling, as the only white wine from Graham Stevens Wines.  There is a nose full of limes with just a hint of the lime zest and the flavors not only have the limes but the lemons as well.  There is not as much acid as the more classical Eden Valley Rieslings I have been drinking so I do not put this up there as a classical Riesling.  However those wines are sometimes criticized about having too much acid and many consumers would like to see this toned down.  If that is the case the this is a wine for you.  At this price it is a steal!

2011 “The Cousins” Grenache Rose ($14)

This light pink wine has the aromas of sweet strawberries and the flavors of cherries and strawberries.  There is a little acid tingle on the tongue which cleans the palate after the sugar from the wine (not too much sugar) which makes the mouth ready for more.  Definitely a summer wine.

2009 Arrogant Cleanskin ($9)

This is a 50%:50% blend of Shiraz and Grenache.  First produced as a marketing exercise this 2009 wine is even better.  The wine is not complex but it is just good solid fruit driven wine.  The red fruits from the Grenache dominate both the aromas and the flavors.  If you are looking for a great value wine that shows lots of fruit character (instead of lots of cheap oak) then you could not do better than this wine.

2006 Vat 52 ($18.59)

I have tried this wine many times of the last year or so and the wine just continues to sit up and say please drink me.  A blend of 50% Shiraz, 30% Grenache and 20% Cabernet is interesting as it is ready to drink almost straight away but the wine will age gracefully.  At this time the Cabernet black current aromas seems to be coming through more than I remember but the redness of the Grenache plays an important part. All in all an interesting blend that seems to work.

2006 Stevens Family Shiraz ($24)

A new release bit in the same mould of the previous release.  The aromas show lots of black fruits – dark cherry and blackberry.  There are also hints of french oak cedar.  The flavors show clean black fruits that seem to be the trademark of their vineyard.

2006 Trophy Reserve Shiraz ($40)

I get some hints of American oak coconut sweetness match with the plum character one expects from quality McLaren Vale Shiraz.  The tannin structure was well matched with the fruit and the finish was lingering.  Different to the Stevens Family wine but not necessarily better.

2009 Fleurieu Cabernet Sauvignon ($24)

Fruit from the Cool Mt. Compass area provides the clean black current fruit character with the cedar of French oak.  Soft tannins but there is a lingering finish.  A good Cabernet but I preferred the 2006.

2012 Vintage Fortified ($25)

Another new release – after the quality 2010 Vintage Shiraz I was really looking forward to this wine.  As expected I got plums here, but I did not expect the milk chocolate and cherry – yes, a bit like a cherry ripe.  This wine is more complex than the 2010 version, but the wines are so different that one wine is not necessarily better than the other.  There is sweetness here but the finish is very dry and long which indicates plenty of acid here.  When one tries such a good Vintage Port style it is difficult to understand why these wines are not produced more often.

2010 Vintage Liqueur Muscat ($20)

All about the clean sweet Muscat fruit here.  Yes the alcohol is obvious with a tingle on the nose and the warm finish but the hero of the wine is the fruit.  A wine with not a lot of oak influence but I know oak has played it’s part.  I also find the finish interesting in that there is plenty of acid here.  This acid cleans the ample sugar off the palate so the mouth is ready for more – bring it on.

McLaren Vale Wine – Scarce Earth Shiraz Project #3

McLaren Vale Scare Earth Shiraz Project Tasting

During the month of May the Scarce Earth wines are available for tasting from the cellar doors for the respective wineries or some of the smaller wineries are showing their wines at the McLaren Vale Information Center.

My view about the McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Shiraz Project this is a chance for McLaren Vale to market, as a combined approach, one of the wine styles this area does really well – Shiraz.  There has been a better roll out this year and as a general opinion the wines are much better than last year.  The big thing the group need to ensure that the Scarce Earth Project does not turn into a an “old boys club”.

Now my comments about the remaining McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Shiraz Project……

Battle of Bosworth Chanticleer Shiraz ($45)

From stony loamy soils from their Binney Road vineyard.  The fruit is very clean on the nose but the flavors really shine through with white pepper with soft velvety fruit character.

Bottle of Bosworth Braden’s Shiraz ($45)

From the Bay of Biscay clay soils from the same Binney Road vineyard.  Tis wine is all about darkness and strength.  Just so good and so different from from the other wine from this stable and from the same vineyard.

d’Arenberg Shipsters Rapture Single Vineyard ($99)

Mulberry and spice and all things nice that what this wine is made of.

d’Arenberg The Blind Tiger Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99)

The 87 year old Blewitt Springs vineyard produced a fruit rich offering with white pepper on the nose and anise infused fresh plum compote with a dark chocolate finish.  A seriously good wine but at this price so it should.

d’Arenberg The Garden of Extraordinary Delights Shiraz($99)

Of the 3 d’Arenberg offerings this wine has what appears to be the best balance between spice and fruit.  Neither is dominate over the other.

Kangarilla Road Scarce Earth Shiraz ($50)

From their Maslins Beach vineyard I got limited aromas but showed considerable depth of all the classical Shiraz flavors.

Shingleback Unedited Single Vineyard Shiraz ($70)

Limited aromas and a relatively short flavor profile of the dark black fruit character makes me wonder if this wine was only recently bottled as I know this wine’s pedigree and expected more.

Vinrock Shiraz ($40)

This is just pure juicy Shiraz in a bottle.  I enjoyed the pure flavors and definition of the plum and spice range character.  I see this as a definitely drink now wine as I am not sure I could wait.

Hugh Hamilton Black Blend #1 Single Vineyard Shiraz ($50)

The 2 Black Sheep wines were probably the most interesting for me.  These wines were almost under oaked and I believe the wines could have been better with a little more oak.  I do not think I have ever said or thought this about a red wine before – this wine made me think about what was happening and not just experiencing the wine.  My notes just said – fruit, fruit and more fruit.  In this case mulberries.

Hugh Hamilton Black Blend #2 Single Vineyard Shiraz ($50)

As for the wine above this is all about the fruit.  This wine showed more concentrated black fruit profiles so was very different than the previous wines.  One could not argue this wine was showing off the essence of the vineyard!

McLaren Vale Wine – 2010 Scarce Earth Shiraz Project

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleaseure of attending the McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Shirz Project.  Check out my views about the project and the tasting here.  This post will continue my rieviews of these wines.  As I discussed last week I will be reviewing the McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Shiraz Project wines over a few weeks, with each review I will be mainly discussing the differences between the wines and not that all of them have plum character.  I hope you enjoy the comments and I welcome any of your comments as well.

Tatachillia Hall Entrance

Sabella J. Petrucci and Son Shiraz ($25)

Another value offering from the Sabella vineyard and winery.  I have tried the last 3 vintages of Shiraz that Michael Petrucci has made and I think each year has been better than the last.  I suppose one should make good or better wine from the 2010 vintage, but I get a sense of more.  I get the feeling that Michael is getting to understand his craft and his raw materials (grapes from his father’s vineyard) better. The wine shows the aromas expected from Shiraz and a mild dose of white pepper.  I really enjoyed the strength brought on by the fruit as much as any oak treatments.  There is plenty of acid here also so the wine should last for ages.

Penny’s Hill Footprint Shiraz ($60)

Even though there is minimal American oak used in the making of this wine I got an immediate sense of the vanilla and sweetness brought on by oak of the American variety.  What I also took away was the depth of character that lingered until the next mouthful.

Wirra Wirra Patritti Single Vineyard Shiraz ($132)

Grapes for this wine were from the Whittings Road vineyard in the Blewitt Springs area.  The deep sands with peat layers have a distinct effect on both the aromas and flavours.  I also got a feeling of blue-ness what tasting this wine – there is a Shiraz clone that exhibits blue berry, so I guess this is what I was experiencing.  The spice mix was more towards pepper aromas but anise flavours.  A special note about the packaging here, the bottle shows a contour map of the region showing the vineyard location (see the photo).

Wirra Wirra Scarce Earth Shiraz

Geoff Merrill Reserve McLaren Vale Shiraz ($75)

Just making it into the McLaren Vale region being made from Kangarilla fruit next to the Mt Bold Reservoir.  One special barrel was selected that shows anise aromas but a fruit driven front flavours with a big mid palate and a soft finish.

Hastwell and Lightfoot Scarce Earth Single Vineyard Shiraz ($28)

My first wine from this stable and I was not disappointed.  This wine from the Foggo Road vineyard has lots of spice and length with an interesting mouthfeel that brings me back for more.

Chapel Hill The Chosen House Block Shiraz ($65)

Blue aromas mixed with a funky, earthy and almost barnyard stink style flavours.  The fruit has been well looked after here.

Chapel Hill The Chosen Road Block Shiraz ($65)

The aromas were somewhat closed but the wine here is all about the fine structure and lovely spice.  This wine will live for a long, long time and will reward anybody who cellars this wine.

Angoves Warboys Vineyard Shiraz

From a small section on the hill of the Warboys vineyard .  Lots of spice and fruit sweetness that melds into an interesting viscocity and the resultant mouthfeel.

Dowie Doole Scarce Earth Shiraz ($45)

A little fruit sweetness here as well with a depth of fruit based character and the wonderful experience of mixed spice.

Brash Higgins SHZ ($37)

This wine really made me sit up and take notice.  A meatiness like chorizo sausage loaded with paprika, the usual iodine character (that I seem to get consistently from this Malpas rod vineyard) and some slight citrus (most unusual).  There is sufficient tannins here that act like all they want to do is to is to dry out your teeth.  This wine is my second favorite from the Project wines.

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